The Allure of SE Asia: Inspiration from my Daughter, Anna



.facebook_-376579100   I was never surprised when my daughter said she wanted to study in Cambodia and Vietnam!

In fact, I encouraged the opportunity to experience the culture of a developing country.

However, my protective, loving, husband, John, was a little skeptical. He assumed she would follow the traditional study abroad program in Europe and learn a universal foreign language. When she proposed the idea, he said,” What will you do with the language of Cambodia?”

Little did he know………..

It’s what Cambodia does to you!


Anna, our independent, spirited, and caring daughter, is studying the

psychology of poverty.

Her latest email proclaimed, “Mom, I know why you are fascinated with SE Asia:  succulent mangoes; fresh,vegetarian meals( we both love healthy food); ancient history; Eastern philosophy and art; Buddhist monks in saffron-clad robes; tuk tuks (taxis); utter chaos; and heartwarming people.

Her research thesis:

 The effects of the 1975-1979 Cambodian genocide on contemporary Cambodian art

She met one of the 3 survivors from the torture and death prison, S-21. Bou Meng, an acclaimed artist was selected to draw portraits of Pol Pot, the head of the Khmer Rouge (Communist group in Cambodia).

This is why he is alive today!


Following my natural curiosity, I began reading about Pol Pot. In the beginning, he lived a dual life: teacher by day and revolutionary at night. Eventually he emerged as the head of the Communist group, Khmer Rouge. The Viet Cong launched attacks from Cambodia into Vietnam during the Vietnam War . The US began bombing Cambodia to drive the Communist out; as a result, Pol Pot became a freedom fighter to his followers, proclaiming the end of Western imperialism. He followed Mao’s philosophy, advocating for an agrarian society and killed intellectuals, former government leaders,…( est. 1.5-2 million) with the objective  to restore the peasant lifestyle. In open fields, he killed innocent people with hoes (he did not want to waste bullets). Hence, the name of the famous movie, The Killing Fields.

Anna’s email confirmed what I had read. The visit to the genocide museum and killing fields was disturbing and emotional.

This building houses thousands of skulls as a reminder of Pol Pots massacre of his own people.


While writing this blog and reading about Cambodia, I made a decision to take an excursion from Thailand( my next teaching mission) to Cambodia. The wheel has  turned

My daughter is now inspiring me!

Love you Anna.



Filed under Teaching

2 responses to “The Allure of SE Asia: Inspiration from my Daughter, Anna

  1. Celia

    Lovely post! 🙂

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